A time capsule letter to the future stewards of the Apostle Islands

What would you say to the future? Our 50th anniversary celebration of the creation of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is over. The speeches have been given, the cupcakes eaten, the candles blown out. But the legacy of all we have accomplished in the park, our honoring of the past and excitement about the future, will live on in a kind of “time capsule” being submitted to the National Park Service commemorating this anniversary year.

It will include pamphlets and pins, photographs and invitations and the texts of speeches given. It will include the proclamation issued in honor of the park by Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers. 

And it will include a letter, a “Letter to 2070” written by our Executive Directors Jeff and Jill Rennicke to those who may be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the park in 2070.

Here is the letter to the future lovers of the park: 


Dear 2070:

It was nightfall on the evening of September 25th, 2021. Darkness was settling like a great bird on Chequamegon Bay, the outline of Basswood Island just barely visible, blue-black, on the dimming horizon. A small group of perhaps 75 people – locals, tourists, National Park personnel, and others — had gathered on the warm sands of Washington Avenue beach for a quiet ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. There were cupcakes, flags in the sand created by children, and speeches. Superintendent Lynne Dominy spoke eloquently of the park, past and future.  Two teenagers, young women, both participants in the Stewards of Tomorrow program, bravely took their turn addressing the crowd. 

Then, we spread out to light fifty candles set in glass luminaries around the beach – flickering flames to “light the way to the future.” 

When all the candles were lit, we got to wondering how far out into the lake, into the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, our candles were visible. Could a sailor coming down the North Channel see them? Could campers at the sites on the south end of Basswood Island see the light?

Could you see our light fifty years from now? We doubted that, so instead we write you this letter. 

As you read this, the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore will be nearing its 100th anniversary. Perhaps you are also planning speeches, cupcakes, even candles. However you plan to celebrate this milestone, we hope the islands will still be as beautiful, the waters still as clear, the waves still as powerful carving the shorelines, as they are today. If they are, think of the people who came before, just as we did that night lighting candles on the beach.

When Gaylord Nelson was battling to create the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, he often spoke of the “future generations” that would be the beneficiaries and caretakers of such a designation. That night fifty years ago on the beach, we realized that we were the people he was talking about. In the fifty years since he had created the lakeshore, we had become that generation. It was our turn now to take up the charge, the responsibility to keep the waters clear, the beaches clean, the wildlife thriving, the stories alive in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

If we did our job well, you will still have the red cliffs of Mawikwe Bay reflecting sunset, the footprints of black bears in the bog above Julian Bay, the open views from Raspberry Island light. If you do, know that it has not been easy. You might wonder why our 50th anniversary celebration took place in the 51st year of the park. The reason was the COVID-19 pandemic that swept through our country and the world, like wildfire in 2020, taking too many lives, delaying our planned celebration for a year, and forcing many of the planned public gatherings to convert to online events. But with hard work, COVID protocols, and a positive attitude, we managed to honor and celebrate the history, beauty, and importance of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in style – a very successful Resource Stewardship Symposium, three installments of our “Sense of Adventure” series, our Lakeshore Logbooks, the History Mystery figures popping up at area businesses, a proclamation from Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, and more. 

As we moved forward into the next fifty years, there remained many challenges ahead – the lingering effects of COVID on every aspect of our lives, the growing influence of global climate change, the challenge of keeping the national parks in general relevant to a whole new generation of caretakers. But we felt we were positioned well to take on those challenges with our first-ever Executive Directors, our new Board Chair Kelley Linehan, and the help of all who love these islands. 

How did we do? Well, you will have to be the judge of that. In the dim light of the flickering candles that night on the beach, the future was uncertain, unclear. But if you are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the park, we must have done something right. We hope you are still enjoying the hiking trails and the northern lights and the sandy beaches that we sought to protect. We hope that eagles still fly, loons still call, and kids still sail. We hope the stories are still told.

But even more than that, we hope that you too hear the call of responsibility in the words of Gaylord Nelson and others for you have now become that “future generation” that must take up the charge to protect these islands and this lake. Do it well. Tell the stories. Honor those who were here before and keep in mind those who will come after. Sail, hike, swim, listen, lie back and look at the stars.

Light the lights and keep them burning. And, know that we tried to do the same.

For the Islands,

Jeff and Jill Rennicke
Co-Executive Directors
Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

Here’s to everyone who helped Friends celebrate and honor the 50th anniversary of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, all who made the last 50 years great and to those who will light the way for the next 50 years.

What would you say to the future?

A collection of artifacts and memories to be preserved for future generations as documentation of the 50th Anniversary celebration for the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore


Jeff Rennicke is Executive Director of the Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. He is also an educator, outdoor adventure travel writer and photographer.

Erica Peterson’s legacy will live on in many forms as she steps down after nearly eight years of guiding the Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

Beach walks, bog smells, night skies, and flower gardens

Enjoy a ranger talk at the all-accessible amphitheater at Stockton Island. Inhale the sweet scent of the flower beds at the Michigan Island Lighthouse. Stroll through history along the Sand Island boardwalk. These classic Apostle Islands experiences and many more have one thing, or rather one person, in common: Erica Peterson.

Recently, Friends of the Apostle Islands announced that Erica Peterson was stepping down after nearly eight years as the Chair of the Board of Directors. During her tenure, Peterson was the guiding force behind the growth and development of the Friends into a valuable philanthropic partner for the national lakeshore, building a long-lasting legacy. 

“Erica transformed the Friends of the Apostle Islands from a good, small friends group, into a great one,” says Bob Krumenaker who served as the Superintendent of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore for much of Peterson’s tenure. “Always self-effacing, but tireless, she made a point to work with me as the superintendent to make sure that the park’s goals were the Friends’ goals, and I did the same in reverse.”  

Bob Krumenaker

With a deep love for the park born of her time as ranger on Stockton and an artist, island sailor, and naturalist, Erica saw her role with the Friends as “an opportunity to give back to the Park for all its beach walks, bog smells, wild storms, eagle sightings, and night skies,” she says, and in turn, “help steward its vital future.” And, she wanted to help make those same experiences available to all.

Cutting the ribbon at the new Stockton Island amphitheater

“Erica is passionate about making the park accessible,” says former park superintendent Krumenaker, “and the amphitheater at Stockton Island, as well as the viewing platform at Little Sand Bay, to name just two projects, would not have happened if it were not for Erica’s leadership.”

Erica Peterson 50th Anniversary cupcake
Erica Peterson and a 50th Anniversary cupcake

Peterson also oversaw the role of Friends in celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, garnered the funds to allow the organization to hire its first Executive Directors, presided over the organization as it met and surpassed the milestone of raising over $500,000 in funds to support projects related to the park, and was instrumental in the 2021 ceremony raising the flag of the Red Cliff Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa to a permanent installation over the park at Little Sand Bay. 

Her efforts were recognized in many ways. Friends Vice-Board Chair Mark Weller says, “Erica has provided exemplary leadership to the Friends and to all those who love this park. Through her guidance this organization has seen exponential growth with a razor-sharp attention to our collective goals. The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore has been the beneficiary of Erica’s love of this region and her management of our efforts.”

Erica Peterson and Lynne Dominy
Erica Peterson and Lynne Dominy

Lynne Dominy, the current superintendent of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore also recognizes her efforts saying, “Thanks to the vision and leadership of Erica Peterson, retiring FAINL board President, FAINL now is in a place of long-term strength and sustainability. She built a dynamic board, leveraged support and funding to hire an Executive Director, defined clear fundraising pillars to support Apostle Islands National Lakeshore priorities, and recognized the importance of strong community relationships. Erica built the foundation for FAINL that will enable them to tackle large, complex projects to benefit this park, the park visitors, and our surrounding communities for the next 50 years.” 

Erica Peterson with Lake Superior Magazine Award
Erica Peterson with Lake Superior Magazine Achievement Award

Yet with all of that, and with the recent 2021 Lake Superior Achievement Award “for contributing significantly to the well-being of Lake Superior and its peoples,” perhaps the most fitting symbol of Erica Peterson’s love for the park will live on in the form of flowers. For years, Erica has led the volunteer efforts to maintain and beautify the gardens both at the Michigan Island lighthouse and at the Gaylord Nelson Gardens located on the grounds of the park headquarters in Bayfield. 

Erica Peterson gardens
Erica Peterson gardens on Michigan Island

Flowers, energy, passion, enthusiasm, and attention to detail, Erica Peterson has truly found a way to give back to the park for all its sunsets and starry skies. And as incoming Board Chair Kelley Linehan says, her legacy will shine long into the future. “Erica’s leadership of the Friends of the Apostle Islands has resulted in a sea change for the organization, both inside and out,” Linehan says. “Her effort and dedication to the cause will help carry the Friends’ mission into the future, enhancing and assuring the appreciation and preservation of these wild and beautiful islands for years to come. Thank you.”

Peterson will remain on the Board of Directors of Friends and will continue to lend her vision, passion, energy, and flower-gardening skills to the islands she loves. 


Jeff Rennicke is Executive Director of the Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. He is also an educator, outdoor adventure travel writer and photographer.

Of sun dogs and sunlit winter mornings in the Apostle Islands

Peppermint. On mornings this cold – minus 8 degrees Fahrenheit with a wind chill dipping even lower – each breath tingles against your teeth like peppermint. Each step in the new snow squeaks beneath my boots. In cold like this, it takes a strength of will to get out so early but there are rewards too, like what lies in the sky just ahead.

For many of us, the Apostle Islands are a picture-perfect summer postcard kind of place – the “singing sands” beneath your feet in Julian Bay, the sky-blue waves on the horizons, the echo of water dripping like notes played on a harp deep in the sea caves. But winter has beauties all its own and this morning, in this cold, one of those beauties is shimmering in the sky: a sun dog.

Sun dogs over Lake Superior – Jeff Rennicke photos

Meteorologists call them a “mock sun” or a “parhelion” – two arcs of rainbow-like colored light, one on each side of the rising sun. Unlike a rainbow, which is seen by looking at the horizon opposite the sun and is caused by light refracting in water droplets, a sun dog is caused by the refraction of the low-angled sunlight through hexagon-shaped ice crystals drifting in the atmosphere on cold mornings and is seen looking directly into the sun. A sun dog consists of bright spots, often on both sides of the sun, to the left and right, at about a 22-degree angle and situated at the same altitude above the horizon line. They usually have a more subtle coloring than a rainbow and are shaded red at the side nearest the sun with the colors moving further out shading through oranges to a soft blue. Unlike the distinct colors of the rainbow, a sun dog’s colors are usually muted and less distinct.

There is a place for scientific explanations, but on mornings like this with the bright sun shimmering over the sea smoke rising over Lake Superior, it is not science that I think of. I think of wonder, the shining beauty of moments suspended in this cold, and of the awe, even fear, that the sight of sun dogs has instilled in humans throughout the cold mornings of history. Seen as an augury of storms, a sign of treasure gleaming just over the horizon, an omen of victory in battle, sun dogs have appeared not only in the sky but also in the journals of explorers and the paintings of artists for generations reaching as far back as Aristotle. In Greek mythology, they are explained as the dogs of the god Zeus accompanying him on a walk through the sky. 

Whatever their cause or history, sun dogs on a morning after a two-day blizzard, make the sky seem to shimmer, a reason to raise your eyes from the cocoon-like warmth of your parka and turn your eyes to the sky. They are as brief as the morning sun but are also a sight that reminds us that the beauty of a place like the Apostle Islands is not found only in summer, not only in postcards. Sometimes, it is found in a morning wrapped in ribbons of light and color and cold. 


Jeff Rennicke is Executive Director of the Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. He is also an educator, outdoor adventure travel writer and photographer.

The trail ahead: Friends charts the course for 2022 and beyond

Leaning my shoulder against a birch tree, I stop for a breather and to watch the late afternoon light wash over the forest along the Lakeshore Trail. It is the last day of 2021. The sun will soon set, ending a tumultuous year of challenges, changes, and setting the stage for tomorrow’s sunrise to begin the new year ahead. Seems like a good time to reflect, and to catch my breath.

As with all of us, COVID had a deep impact on 2021 for Friends of the Apostle Islands, delaying and extending our planned 2020 50th Anniversary celebration and forcing many of the planned public gatherings to convert to online events. But with hard work, COVID protocols, and a positive attitude, we managed to honor and celebrate the history, beauty, and importance of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in style – a very successful Resource Stewardship Symposium, three installments of our “Sense of Adventure” series, our Lakeshore Logbook, the History Mystery figures popping up at area businesses, a proclamation from Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, and more. At a candlelight ceremony to cap it all off, we stood on a Bayfield beach overlooking the lakeshore, remembering the work of people like Senator Gaylord Nelson in establishing the National Lakeshore a generation ago and passing the torch to us, the new generation of island caretakers. In the light of those 50 candles, we saw both an honoring of the past and a hope and commitment for the future. 

As Friends of the Apostle Islands moves forward into the light of the New Year, there remain many challenges ahead – the lingering effects of COVID on every aspect of our lives, the growing influence of global climate change, the challenge of keeping the national parks in general relevant to a whole new generation of caretakers. But we are positioned well to take on those challenges with our first-ever Executive Directors, our new Board Chair Kelley Linehan, and support from people like you at an all-time high. While we cut the ribbon on the new all-accessible amphitheater on Stockton Island last year, we remain committed to accessibility in our park with plans for completing the boardwalk on Sand Island and soon a major capital campaign to raise funds to make the Meyers Beach kayak access more friendly to all users.

To keep you informed and inspired, we will hit the airwaves with our new podcast “Wavelength: Voices of the Apostle Islands” and add to our “Sense of Adventure” series of videos. We will continue to work on engaging young people with the islands through youth engagement programs and again provide volunteer opportunities for all like planting beach grass, tending gardens, and beach clean up days. For lovers of the stars, we will work towards a Dark Sky Park initiative for the Apostle Islands.

With the strength and resilience that helped us get through the year coming to an end, and with your continued support, we will move into the new year with a renewed purpose and commitment to our mission of preserving and protecting the cultural and natural resources of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

Leaning against the birch tree, resting, I think back with pride about all we’ve accomplished this year despite the difficulties and obstacles, and with hope about what lies just out of sight on the trail to the year ahead. Thank you for all you’ve done for these islands, and for Friends of the Apostle Islands. Now, let’s all take a deep breath and step confidently forward on to the trail ahead.

Happy New Year.


Jeff Rennicke is Executive Director of the Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. He is also an educator, outdoor adventure travel writer and photographer.

Explore the Top 10 Friends website stories of 2021

DRUMROLL PLEASE! It has been a big year in the Apostle Islands — from fun and fanfare to tragedy averted. During this last week of the year,, Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is counting down its TOP TEN Island stories of 2021. In sharing these stories, we thank you, our readers and supporters, for your support and we wish you an adventure-filled 2022 in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

10

HERE WE GO: Weather stories always resonate with Island Lovers, so the #10 most popular story of the year goes to the tall birch trees dancing in the big gale.

9

At #9 on our countdown of the TOP TEN Island stories of 2021 is the ribbon-cutting on the all-accessible Stockton Island Amphitheater. It’s part of the accessibility initiative of Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, proving once again that we believe that national parks belong to people of all abilities. Enjoy the story!

8

At #8 in the TOP TEN most viewed Island stories of 2021: Rangers make our parks better, safer, and more fun. In 2021, the 50th anniversary year of the Apostle Islands, former ranger Neil Howk conducted a series of interviews with Apostle Islands rangers. Here’s to the women and men of the National Park Service and the stories they shared in the Lakeshore Logbook, at #8 on the Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore countdown.

7

Surf’s up! Coverage of new tools you can use to safely explore and enjoy the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore did really well in our Top Ten Stories of 2021. At #7, read about a new buoy system that measures wind and waves, giving paddlers and boaters information they need to know.

6

At #6, a cornucopia of island knowledge. The 50th Anniversary Resource Stewardship Symposium brought together dozens of experts for two days of interactive video presentations — covering everything from songbirds and shipwrecks to the roles of fire and fisheries. You can watch two days of presentations right here.

5

“51 is the new 50” or so went the motto for our COVID-extended 50th anniversary celebration for the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Late or not, it was a resounding success from cupcakes to candlelight to a proclamation from Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers and it comes in at #5 on the TOP TEN countdown of most-viewed stories.

4

The beat goes on. We are up to #4 on the Friends of the Apostle Islands TOP TEN countdown of the most read stories of 2021: the naming of the organization’s first-ever Executive Directors. Jeff and Jill Rennicke (our dynamic duo) are honored to lead the way into the future and we’ve got big plans for 2022. Join us and help plot the course for the islands we all love.

3

And now …. #3 on the TOP TEN countdown: the night the sky danced. Enjoy the story of the northern lights below (our 3rd most popular story of the year) and then join us to help preserve the dark skies over our park so that we can all experience the magic of the aurora borealis.

2

#2 on the TOP TEN countdown of most-viewed stories on the Friends of the Apostle Islands website for 2021 proves the old adage that it’s not just the destination, its the journey. Getting there can be a part of the adventure too and exploring the Lake Superior Scenic Byway is a great way to get started.

1

And Now: Friends, neighbors, land lubbers and Lake Sailors, the #1 most-viewed story of 2021 on the Friends of the Apostle Islands TOP TEN countdown: weather forecasts tailored specifically for the paddlers, sailors, and boaters among us when we’re exploring the park we love.

As we look ahead to 2022, we’re focused on providing stories and information that can help you to make the most of your next visit to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, and that advances our mission to promote an appreciation for, and preservation of, the natural environment and cultural heritage of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. If you have a story idea or comments, we’re always listening. We’re also forever grateful for your continuing support. Please join us.

The day the sun stood still: winter solstice

Something important happened in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore at 9:59 a.m. on Tuesday, December 21, 2021. No trumpets blared, no speeches were given, no fireworks punctuated the occasion. It was a quiet miracle as far as I could tell. Where I walked alone through the scant snow along the lakeshore, just a few notes of chickadee song tinseled the air. No other sound but the waves of my own breathing. But don’t be fooled. Despite the lack of fanfare, this was an event of monumental consequence: in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, the sun stood still.

Beach ice glistens in the sun
Beach ice glistens in the solstice sun – Jeff Rennicke photo

Solstice, a term that combines the Latin words for “sun” and “to stand still,” occurred in the Apostle Islands at 9:59 a.m. Two solstices occur each year in the park – summer solstice on or around June 21st and winter solstice on or about December 21st. The winter solstice marks the moment the sun reaches it furthest point in its southerly journey and seems to pause, just a moment, before beginning its slow trajectory back towards spring.

It is, for some, the depth of the darkness for the year, marking the beginning of winter and etching in the longest night and the shortest flicker of daylight all year. But, for others, there is hope in that moment of deepest darkness for the solstice also marks the beginning of light returning. It is true that because of the tilt of the earth and the sun’s path, the latest sunrise of the year will occur after solstice, but it is also true that the sunsets will start to come later and that the overall time that the sun is above the horizon at our latitude will grow no shorter, will slowly increase. Think of it as the daylight’s equivalent of the waxing moon. The “days” will now get longer. 

Humans have always traced the path of the sun across the sky – in stories, in art, in myth and legend, even in architecture. The “Solstice Window” in the Temple of the Sun found in Peru’s Machu Picchu is said to mark the sun’s journey, as is England’s Stonehenge. There are no such grand structures in the Apostles that mark the moment as far as I know. I search the shadows in the cliffs from the Lakeshore Trail for hidden clues and deeper meaning but find only ice and sandstone. If something is written there, I cannot decipher its wisdom.

Icy shoreline mainland cliffs
ice-covered cliffs in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore – Jeff Rennicke photo

Yet something has changed in the Apostles, even if it is not etched in stone. From this moment on, the shadows will be a little less lengthy, the sunlight glowing a little bit longer each day in the sky. I think of the black bears deep in their dens rolling over, the turtles suspended in the mud beneath the ice. Something has changed, some promise is being kept. The winter solstice is, at the very least, a reminder that although there is darkness and cold yet to come, the earth and the sun are still locked in their ancient dance through the heavens. The cadence continues. Spring will come, rising like a crescendo a little bit louder every day. The light will shine again, brighter each day. It may not be much, but it is something.

Even the chickadee song seems just a little bit brighter, more hopeful, as I turn back along the trail and head towards the car and home.


Jeff Rennicke is Executive Director of the Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. He is also an educator, outdoor adventure travel writer and photographer.

Dance of the birch trees

A walk in the dancing forest this morning reminded me of another windstorm, this one in December of 1874 and made famous by John Muir.

While others ran for shelter, Muir “lost no time in pushing out into the woods to enjoy” the storm. Picking a sturdy-looking tree, he climbed as high as he could into the swaying wind, clinging to the trunk as the tree itself “fairly flapped and swished in the passionate torrent, bending and swirling backward and forward, round and round, tracing indescribable combinations of vertical and horizontal curves, while I clung with muscles firm braced, like a bobo-link on a reed.”

There is much to learn, as Muir discovered, in such a storm – about the forest and ourselves. “We all travel the Milky Way together, trees and men,” he wrote, “but it never occurred to me until this storm-day, while swinging in the wind, that trees are travelers, in the ordinary sense.

They make many journeys, not extensive ones, it is true; but our own little journeys, away and back again, are only little more than tree-wavings — many of them not so much.” It is a good day for a walk in the woods and the pondering of the lessons of the storm.


Jeff Rennicke is Executive Director of the Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. He is also an educator, outdoor adventure travel writer and photographer.

Leading the way: Friends Executive Director accepted into the National Park Foundation Leadership Institute Class of 2023

The National Park Foundation announced its selection of Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Executive Director Jeff Rennicke to join its Leadership Institute Class of 2023. 

The Leadership Institute is, according to the National Park Foundation, “an intensive 15-month program designed to identify and support cohorts of leaders within national park partner organizations. More than a training program, the Institute is a professional and personal development experience that provides participants with a unique opportunity to understand and develop their leadership style, build fundamental skills, and receive targeted feedback from their peers and the facilitators. Chosen participants take on an Action Learning Challenge that pushes them personally and professionally, have the support of a coach to see their vision turned into a reality, and are introduced to new ideas and concepts that challenge them to think in new, different, and exciting ways.”

The program includes virtual learning classes as well as two in-person retreats – one in Virginia and one at the site of the 2023 National Park Foundation annual convention, for intensive group training.

The class of 2023 includes representatives from Friends organizations supporting national parks including Yosemite, Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, Rocky Mountain, Virgin Islands, Acadia, and more. “This class brings together a diverse mix of executive directors, program managers, and development directors from across the national park system and beyond,” said Madeleine Balkonis, Associate Program Director of Community Partnerships for the National Park Foundation. “We are excited to have them aboard and look forward to learning alongside each and every one of the members of the 2023 cohort.”  

“I am honored to be among this distinguished class of leaders.”

Jeff rennicke

Rennicke said of the announcement, “The opportunity to be connected with park partners from around the country, to learn and be challenged side-by-side with such an array of leaders, is a great opportunity for Friends of the Apostle Islands and a logical step in the growth and development of our organization.”

Generous donations from board members and supporters of Friends, as well as a scholarship from the National Park Foundation “Strong Parks, Strong Communities” fund, will cover all the associated costs of the program allowing Friends to take advantage of this important opportunity and continue to support their programs and projects in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

Photograph by John Noltner

Give a gift that lasts all year. Give a gift of the Islands.

The best gifts show that you really care – for the people in your life and the places they love.

Whether it is a birthday, graduation, a wedding, or just a “thinking of you” moment, a gift membership from Friends of the Apostle Islands will help your loved ones stay in touch with the latest island news, get the information they need to plan that next big island adventure, and show them you care – about them and the islands.

They will be the first to get invitations to volunteering opportunities. They will stay inspired and connected to the Apostle Islands all year long, and it is as simple as a click.

Click below, give us the name of your lucky gift recipient, and we’ll do the rest, including sending an elegant card announcing your gift. Friends of the Apostle Islands can make your giving fast, easy, and meaningful with a gift membership for the ones you love.


$1,000+ Legacy
$500 Stockton Island
$250 Oak Island
$100 Sand Island
$50 Golden Anniversary
$25 Friend

Sea Smoke: Winter in the air, and on the lake

One morning, usually in December, the lake wakes with Winter on its breath: sea smoke. Officially, the explanation is “surface fog resulting from masses of frigidly cold air directly over warm bodies of water.” The sunrise temperature in the Apostle Islands today was a chilly and still 0 degrees. As cold as that air temperature is, the thick body of Lake Superior cools more slowly than the air, greedily holding on to the slow summer heat. Lake temperature today was 43 degrees F. And the lake wrapped the islands in ribbons of sea smoke.

Whatever the official definition of “sea smoke” is, it does not explain its effect on the human soul. All morning today, people on their way to work, park rangers on their patrol, fishermen readying the boats, people in Bayfield on their way to get coffee, all pull their faces out of the cocoon of their winter coats and raise their eyes along the lakeshore. They stand there, head back, mouth open, watching the lake, breathing. 

Sea Smoke Pier

All of us boaters and swimmers and paddlers know the statistics of Lake Superior — 349 miles long, 159 miles wide, largest lake in the world by surface area. But all the numbers, all the things we think we know, drift away like fog on a morning like this.

This is the lake …. breathing, speaking in tongues, saying over and over again its silent word for “power” and “power” and “power.”

Lake Superior is a force. And on days like this, it is best to simply stop and look in wonder.

Sea Smoke

Jeff Rennicke is Executive Director of the Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. He is also an educator, outdoor adventure travel writer and photographer.